Protestors Gather At Board Of Ed. Meeting On Behalf Of Owasso Teen Nex Benedict

The tone of Thursday's meeting was set before doors even opened as dozens of protestors gathered outside, pushing for state leaders to talk about Nex Benedict.

Thursday, February 22nd 2024, 6:46 pm

By: News On 6


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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has urged Owasso Police and Owasso Public Schools to be transparent with the public about the death of 16-year-old Nex Benedict.

“Sarah and I are saddened to learn of the death of Nex Benedict, and our hearts go out to Nex’s family, classmates, and the Owasso community. The death of any child in an Oklahoma school is a tragedy— and bullies must be held accountable. As we await the results of the investigation, I urge Owasso Police and Owasso Public Schools to be forthcoming and transparent with the public.”

Benedict was a student at Owasso High School. Benedict identified as nonbinary, and used "they/them" pronouns, according to their family. Benedict died on Feb. 8, one day after an altercation with other students at Owasso High School. The Owasso Police Department served a search warrant at the school the day after Nex's death.

"The school informed detectives based on their attorney's advice they would require us to get a search warrant to obtain records and process the scene," the department said in a statement Feb. 22nd.

Benedict's family's attorney said in a statement, "Nex was attacked and assaulted in a bathroom by a group of other students. A day later, the Benedict's beautiful child lost their life."

School leaders said they determined none of the students needed to be taken to a hospital by ambulance after all of the students walked to the principal's and nurse's offices. This case has gained national and international attention as the altercation and Benedict's exact cause of death is still under investigation.

Multiple protesters gathered Thursday in Oklahoma City at the State Board of Education's monthly meeting, where State Superintendent Ryan Walters was present.

Protestors at SBOE Meeting One sign read, "How many more students need to be beaten before Walters is held accountable(?)"

The meeting began at 11 a.m. Thursday. While Benedict's death is not on the board's agenda at this time, there may be public comment about the incident.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters made the following statement at the meeting about Benedict's death:

The first that I would like to address is the tragedy in Owasso. Losing a student is always extremely difficult. And we should be keeping the loss of families, communities in our prayers. This is a heartbreaking tragedy. And it's difficult to so many folks over there, and we want to be there to comfort them as best we can. We've had a lot of folks that have rushed to have an opinion and judgment there in the wake of a tragedy. What I would ask is that we wait, while there's little information available, and there'll be more that comes out here for the next few weeks, as law enforcement is doing their investigations. And once that's done, I think we need to wait for those things to be done before we pass judgment. And we're always going to focus on the security and safety of our kids. So we'll be looking at that moving forward.

Owasso Police reveal new details in Nex Benedict's death

Owasso Police said their investigation revealed the death of Benedict was not related to trauma after the physical altercation at the school.

In an updated statement on Wednesday, police said the initial report from the Medical Examiner indicates that Benedict "did not die as a result of trauma."

"While the investigation continues into the altercation. Preliminary information from the medical examiner’s office is that a complete autopsy was performed and indicated that the decedent did not die as a result of trauma. At this time, any further comments on the cause of death are currently pending until toxicology results and other ancillary testing results are received. The official autopsy report will be available at a later date" - Owasso Police

The investigation is ongoing.

Below is the Full update From Owasso Police

Since February 7th, 2024, the Owasso Police Department has been actively involved in an investigation into a physical altercation that occurred at the Owasso High School, and Owasso Public Schools has been cooperative throughout the investigation. The students involved in the incident were all juveniles and juvenile files are confidential and inaccessible to the public in most circumstances. From reports, records, and statements of witnesses, it appears that:

  1. On February 7, 2024, a physical altercation occurred in a restroom at the Owasso High School West Campus.
  2. The physical altercation was broken up by other students who were present in the restroom and a school staff member who was supervising outside of the restroom.
  3. All students involved in the altercation walked under their own power to the assistant principal’s office and nurse’s office.
  4. School administrators began taking statements from the students present in the restroom and began contacting parents/guardians of the students involved in the physical altercation.
  5. Each of the students involved in the altercation was given a health assessment by a registered nurse at the school and it was determined that ambulance service was not required.
  6. While it was determined that ambulance service was not required, the school nurse recommended that Nex Benedict visit a medical facility for further examination.
  7. On the afternoon of February 7, 2024, an Owasso School Resource Officer was assigned to respond to Bailey Medical Center where Nex Benedict was being examined. The School Resource Officer interviewed Nex and their parent concerning the altercation at the Owasso High School.
  8. The following morning, the School Resource Officer followed up with the parent.
  9. On the afternoon of February 8, 2024, Owasso Fire Department medics were dispatched to a medical emergency involving Nex Benedict, who was transported to the St. Francis Pediatric Emergency Room where they later died.
  10. While the investigation continues into the altercation. preliminary information from the medical examiner’s office is that a complete autopsy was performed and indicated that the decedent did not die as a result of trauma. At this time, any further comments on the cause of death are currently pending until toxicology results and other ancillary testing results are received. The official autopsy report will be available at a later date.

Attorney for family of Nex Benedict releases statement

The family of Nex Benedict released a statement on Wednesday saying "The Benedicts know all too well the devastating effects of bullying and school violence, and pray for meaningful change wherein bullying is taken seriously."

The entire statement released by the family attorney can be found below:

On February 7th, 2024, the Benedict Family sent their child, Nex Benedict, to Owasso High School, trusting, like any parent or family member should be able to, that it was a safe environment for their loved one. Millions of parents across America make the same decision each and every morning. While at Owasso High School, Nex was attacked and assaulted in a bathroom by a group of other students.

A day later, Benedict's beautiful child lost their life.

Many of the questions posed by friends, family, media, and other concerned citizens are also top of mind for those left to honor Nex's memory. While various investigations are still pending, the facts currently known by the family, some of which have been released to the public, are troubling at best. We urge those tasked with investigating and prosecuting all potentially liable parties to do so fully, fairly, and expediently.

Notwithstanding, the family is independently interviewing witnesses and collecting all available evidence. The Benedict Family calls on all school, local, state, and national officials to join forces to determine why this happened, to hold those responsible to account, and to ensure it never happens again.

The family graciously accepts and appreciates the outpouring of support, thoughts, and prayers from across the nation for the loss of their child. In the coming weeks and months, they request that their privacy be respected and that they be allowed to grieve and deal with their new reality---a life without Nex. The Benedicts know all too well the devastating effects of bullying and school violence, and pray for meaningful change wherein bullying is taken seriously and no family has to deal with another preventable tragedy.

Lastly, the family asks that any threats, or acts, of violence, against students, employees, and personnel, or any other persons associated with the Owasso Public Schools, cease immediately.


Related Coverage:

  1. Family Issues Statement About Owasso Student's Identity; Cause Of Death Still To Be Determined
  2. Investigation Into The Death Of An Owasso High School Student
  3. Funeral Held For 16-Year-Old Owasso Student After Unexpected Death
  4. 16-Year-Old Owasso Student Dies At Hospital 1 Day After Fight At High School



Story Timeline:

16-year-old Nex Benedict died two weeks ago. Owasso Public Schools confirmed there was an altercation in a high school bathroom the day before on February 7. The school says it was broken up in less than two minutes by other students and a staff member. 

Previous Story 2/20/2024: Family Issues Statement About Owasso Student's Identity; Cause Of Death Still To Be Determined

They say everyone involved walked to the principal's and nurse's offices. They say each student was given a health assessment by a school nurse, and the school called all the parents and let them know they could file police reports, and School Resource Officers were also available. School leaders say they determined none of the students needed to be taken to a hospital by ambulance.

Benedict's parent did call the police later that day from the hospital, wanting to make a report. Police say Benedict was released from the hospital that day but was rushed back the next day and died. Lots of social media reports say Benedict was murdered or killed because of the altercation, but police confirmed on Wednesday that they did not die as a result of trauma suffered during the incident.

The medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of death, and that could take months.

Oklahoma's Attorney General, Gentner Drummond also released a statement on Wednesday saying that bullying can not be tolerated in Oklahoma.

"As a parent and grandparent, my heart breaks for the tragic death of the Owasso student. Because investigators are still working to determine what precipitated this tragedy and the student's cause of death, it is too early to jump to conclusions. What is clear, however, is that our children are precious and should not have to endure the cruelty of others, especially when they are in school. Bullying must not be tolerated in any form."

Previous Story 2/19/2024: Investigation Into The Death Of An Owasso High School Student

News On 6 has been asked why we haven't reported more on the death of an Owasso High School student.

We did report on the student's death when it happened and on the student's funeral, but we have not reported rumors.

We are waiting for confirmed facts, and the autopsy results could take weeks to months. Toxicology results could take even longer than that.

We have new statements on Tuesday from Owasso Schools, Owasso Police, and the student's mother.

What has been the response to the investigation?

Owasso Schools says, "Any notion the district has ignored disciplinary action toward those involved is simply untrue."

The ACLU of Oklahoma also released a statement, saying the assault is an inevitable result of the hateful rhetoric and discriminatory legislation targeting Oklahoma trans youth.

The statement also called for a thorough, open investigation of what it calls "reports that the school failed to respond appropriately to the altercation."

However, there has been no evidence released to the public saying Benedict was targeted for being a trans youth.

Owasso Public Schools says it did follow protocol, and a nurse evaluated all students involved, and it was determined no ambulances needed to be called, but the school recommended to the parents of one student to take their student to a medical facility for further examination.

What has the student's family said?

There had been some confusion and questions about the student's name since the family used the student's birth name in the obituary.

The student's mother, Sue Benedict, released a statement on Tuesday that says:

We are sorry for not using their name correctly and as parents, we were still learning the correct forms.
Please do not judge us as Nex was judged, please do not bully us for our ignorance on the subject.
Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them.
I lost my child, the headstone will have correct name of their choice.

Owasso Public Schools says additional counselors have been available for any student, faculty, or staff member who needs help since Friday the 9th.

Anyone in a crisis situation can call these numbers for immediate help:

  1. Family and Children’s Services: 918-744-4800
  2. Parkside Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic: 918-588-8888
  3. Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
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